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3 UNESCO Diversity 2010 - 2012

Mandate

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The new mandate given to UNESCO by the United Nations is a sign of renewed confidence and is consonant with the missions with which the Organization has already been entrusted, particularly the International Year for the Culture of Peace in 2000 and the Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations in 2001.

The new mission comes on the heels of a number of decisions by the Executive Board and resolutions of the General Conference of UNESCO, including 32 C/Resolution 47 on “New perspectives in UNESCO’s activities pertaining to the dialogue among civilizations and cultures” (2003) and “the Plan of Action for the promotion of the dialogue among peoples and UNESCO’s contribution to international action against terrorism” (2006).

With this renewed confidence, the General Assembly acknowledges the pioneering role and long-term work performed by the Organization which, in keeping with its Constitution, has always sought to “develop and to increase the means of communication between peoples and to employ these means for the purposes of mutual understanding and a truer and more perfect knowledge of each other’s lives” so as to “construct the defences of peace in the minds of men.

Enriched by its extensive and regularly-reviewed experience, today UNESCO gives greater importance to this topic that is one of the main objectives of its Medium-Term Strategy (2008-2013), which states that ‘‘the fostering of cultural diversity and of its corollary, dialogue, thus constitutes one of the most pressing contemporary issues and is central to the Organization’s comparative advantage.

The year 2010 will provide a unique occasion to reaffirm the key ideas underpinning UNESCO's commitment, based on the paradigm of a plural humanity where cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue are mutually reinforcing and whose implications drive all UNESCO’s programmes in the fields of education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture, and communication and information.

In this context, UNESCO is required to undertake consultations with a view to drafting a plan of action for preparations for the celebration in 2010. This plan will be a flexible and efficient companion tool, and will underline the added value of intercultural dialogue in local, national and regional policies.

To this end, the Executive Board at its 181st session made the following observations and suggestions which you may use to guide your thoughts on the drafting of the Plan of action, which must: – adopt a holistic approach which incorporates those of other agencies in the United Nations system, States and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations; – take advantage of UNESCO’s experience in the field;

– promote positive examples and original projects, particularly on the occasion of political and cultural events, at national, regional and international levels;
– launch a call to raise extrabudgetary funds to finance relevant projects.

Globalization

Globalization is not a wholly new phenomenon. Empires throughout history have sought to extend their dominion and infl uence beyond their immediate horizons. European colonialism reflected a similar imperialist impulse, inaugurating political, social, economic and cultural imbalances that have persisted into the new millennium. Yet contemporary globalization is of a different order to such historical anticipations. Recent decades have witnessed an unprecedented enmeshment of national economies and cultural expressions, giving rise to new challenges and opportunities. Communication networks have shrunk or abolished distance, to the benefi t of some and the exclusion of others. Travel has never been so rapid and convenient, while remaining beyond the reach of many. In a world in which the possibilities of intercultural contact have multiplied, linguistic diversity and many other forms of cultural expression are in decline.

How then is globalization to be viewed in terms of its impacts on cultural diversity?
Globalization is often conceived as potentially antithetical to cultural diversity, in the sense of leading to the homogenization of cultural models, values, aspirations and lifestyles, to the standardization of tastes, the impoverishment of creativity, uniformity of cultural expressions and so forth. The reality, however, is more complex. While it is true that globalization induces forms of homogenization and standardization, it cannot be regarded as inimical to human creativity, which continues to engender new forms of diversity, constituting a perennial challenge to featureless uniformity.

The plan of action, inspired by these thoughts, must respond to a dual objective to raise the awareness of the international community of the virtues of diversity and intercultural dialogue, using specific examples to show that all cultures and civilizations derive from and feed into each other, and to fight for human rights and against new forms of racism and discrimination.

Partners

Our partners – National Commissions for UNESCO, UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs and UNESCO Associated Schools, Goodwill Ambassadors and UNESCO Clubs and Centres, as well as parliamentarians, locally elected officials, culture, education and the media professionals and youth organizations – are called upon to participate actively in this Year. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001852/185202E.pdf

Since wars begin in the minds of man, it is in the minds of man that the defenses of peace must be constructed.  (UNESCO Constitution, 1945) - On the occasion of and in support of the International Day of Peace, September 21st, 2009, for which Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon gave the motto We Must Disarm (WMD), with a focus on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, the Universal Peace Federation offers the following affirmations:

First, human conflict and the resort to arms and weapons have their roots in the breakdown of human relationships, and the human failure to live up to our highest ideals and aspirations. Violence is a symptom of a moral and spiritual failure. If we are to eliminate violence and weapons of mass destruction, we must commit ourselves to a moral and spiritual awakening.

Second, lasting peace is secured not only through the reduction of nuclear arsenals, but, more importantly, by the growth in solidarity among the whole human family, and a recognition that we are all brothers and sisters who share a common spiritual and moral heritage. We are one family under God. It is this understanding that gives rise to the collective will to put an end to violent conflict.

Third, being the basic, building block of society, the family serves as the primary school of ethics, and should serve as the school where we learn to love, respect and serve others.  By strengthening marriage and family, we can educate our children to respect all people, thereby establishing a culture of peace.  Once humanity learns to resolve conflicts without weapons, massive resources will be reallocated for human development.

Fourth, laws alone cannot change the culture of violence, but must be undergirded by substantial educational programs aimed a promoting character education, conflict resolution, and a culture of service and peace. Men and women who are taught to fulfill their moral obligations and responsibilities toward others will respect and live for the greater good and fulfillment of others. United Nations declares September 21st as The International Day of Peace



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